Sunday, January 19, 2014
The Novus Ordo: A Good Idea?
There is a simple question to ask to regarding the invention of the Novus Ordo liturgy concocted by "experts" under Pope Paul VI. The question is, was the Novus Ordo, the Mass of Paul VI a good idea or a bad idea? Now of course it is much easier for someone like myself to come along and look at everything in hindsight, but that is exactly what I am going to do, because, well... I can. The old saying, "put yourself in their shoes" is only relevant when you can actually do so. Most of us who were not living or not old enough to remember the times of Pope Paul VI cannot really put ourselves in their shoes.
I would however in this post put the ball back in the court of those who lived in the time of Pope Paul VI who actually supported the new liturgical changes and ask them to put themselves in the shoes of Catholics today who come to Church looking for that beautiful and enriching tradition that the Mass of Pius V provides, that the Novus Ordo did away with.
Being able to look at the last 40 years or so allows me to challenge those who thought the New Mass was going to enrich the faithful and improve the understanding of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Only 30 to 40 percent of Catholics now attend Mass regularly, down from approximately 60 to 70 percent before the liturgical changes. Surely the watered down Novus Ordo Mass is not the only reason for low Mass attendance, but the mentality that shaped the New Mass goes right along with the mentality that has watered down Catholicism since its inception. And that is much of the cause of low Mass attendance.
There are a few facts we must face if we are to answer the proposed question.
1. Catholics do not understand the faith or the theology of the Mass any more than they did before the liturgical changes, in fact, Catholics now do not understand the Mass as well today. Studies show that large numbers of Catholics think the Mass is similar to Protestant services, and many have no problem attending Protestant services. They do not believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They do not view the Mass as a Sacrifice, and now view it as primarily a memorial supper.
2. The vernacular did nothing to improve the understanding of the Mass or the Scripture readings at Mass. This was a motive that Bugnini and the liturgical "reformers" after the Council used to essentially do away with Latin, despite the call for its use in the Vatican document on the liturgy. The Vatican II documents are in my opinion, based on what we see going on in the Church today, are not worth the paper they are printed on. They are so ambiguous and full of, "ands, ifs and buts" that they are in many cases worthless.
3. The gutting of the prayers of the New Mass, such as doing away with repetition, the prayers at the foot of the altar, the changing of the confiteor, etc watered down the theology of the Mass, and made it harder to see the theology of Sacrifice and redemption in the Mass. It has also taken the focus off of our sinful nature, and Our Lord's perfect Sacrifice which redeems us. These changes made the Mass man centered, not Christ centered.
4. The loosening of the rubrics and the allowance of the many optional prayers, etc, in the New Mass has taken focus off of Christ and has placed it on the priest. The priest no longer disappears into the person of Christ, priest and victim, but now inserts his preferences and personality into the Mass. This is problematic both for the laity and the priest.
5. The abuses at many Novus Ordo Masses is not the reason why the Novus Ordo is a failure, it is the mentality of the Novus Ordo that made these radical abuses a reality. Many have said that Vatican II never wanted the priest to be facing the people for example, yet that is how the Popes themselves have implemented the New Mass, and even have celebrated their Masses in the same manner. Again, it is mentality that drives the ideas behind the New Mass that have been the catalyst for its failure.
These are only a few facts which lead me to believe that the Novus Ordo, the only liturgy of the Church to ever be assembled ad-hoc by a committee of so called, "experts," to have been a very bad idea. The fact is, all the changes that these experts claimed to be needed to improve the Mass turned out to be a colossal failure. The noisy and distracting Novus Ordo did not improve upon the Mass of Pius V. The vernacular did not improve the understanding of the Mass, and the very fact that these "experts" assumed that the faithful were too stupid to use their Latin/English Missal to learn the language and theology of the Church was and is still insulting. As a result of living 40 some odd years after the implementation of the Novus Ordo, I can come up with a good idea. The Church needs to make at least one Latin Mass at every parish available once a week on Sunday, in preparation for its restoration as the norm. The Novus Ordo experiment of Paul VI was a bad idea, and in hindsight it has been a complete failure.